Saturday, January 30, 2010


Our house is a very, very, very fine house

With two cats in the yard

Life used to be so hard

Now everything is easy

'Cause of you .....

- Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

This was one of my favourite songs many moons ago and it still makes my heart miss a beat when I think of my first love singing it to me . (Listen to it here)

Nicholas Wilton painting the house in his studio.

One of the finest houses I've seen is the one above by Nicholas Wilton . He is one of the 20 artists who have created unique houses to be auctioned off in aid of The Ritter Centre. This is an organization that serves low income families and the homeless in San Rafael, California. Nicholas has written about the progress of his house on his blog, starting here . It is well worth reading to find out the ideas behind it and the meaning of the symbolism.

I love the fact that Nicholas has scratched words into the paint to form sentences which spiral up around the sides of the house. These words are often used by the homeless to describe their experiences.

Threshhold : Folded with Blue and Umber by Kate Hunt at the Cadogan Contemporary.

Folded. Mixed media on canvas by Kate Hunt

Settled. Oil on canvas by Selene Santucci, here.

A Slip in Time & Place. Mixed media by Maurice Gray. See more here.

It Was 5 Years Ago Tomorrow. Mixed media by Maurice Gray

For some light hearted relief have a look at Elaine Thompson's delightful art here. Whimsical houses feature in many of her drawings and paintings.

Hello There. Matted Graphite on Paper by Elaine Thompson

Friday, January 22, 2010


I found this intriguing "manuscript" here at Dr.K Natarajan's blog, Siddhadreams

My book obsession extends to ancient manuscripts, scrolls, maps and texts, especially those kept hidden deep in some cave or rock-hewn church.

How intriguing are the Dead Sea scrolls, Egyptian papyri, illuminated biblical manuscripts, Ethiopia's coptic tomes .....

Ethiopian manuscript. This photo belongs to A. Davey's Flickr photostream here, where you will find more photos of his trip to Ethiopia.

...... magic healing scrolls as tall as the people they've been created for ...

Ethiopian Healing Scrolls. Find more about them here.

.... and the mysterious manuscripts of Timbuktu.

Timbuktu Manuscript. Photo found here.

Great effort is being made to restore and preserve more than 700,000 ancient manuscripts found in Timbuktu and other areas of Mali. Imagine these time worn pages wrapped in engraved leather or within carved wood covers, secreted away in old trunks for centuries.

Leather bound manuscripts from Timbuktu. Photograph found here.

I enjoyed a film clip here showing Andrew Harding's visit to Mali but I must admit I blanched seeing these 800 year old manuscripts being so roughly handled.

Manuscript No. 11 by Ron Pippin. Be prepared to be amazed by Ron's artwork here.

With these beautiful treasures in mind I gravitate toward present day art which captures the essence of old manuscripts. Artwork that instills the feeling that you are looking at something ancient, sacred and irreplaceable.

Manuscript No.2 . Mixed media with bees wax by Ron Pippin

Ron Pippin describes his work as "visual prayers" that aim for healing and "grace".

"Pippin's boxes are close packed and seem more like survival kits from some archaic civilization, with medicine vials, packets of powders or possibly needles, blowgun darts, feathers, discolored files, maps, sepia photos that may portray the original owner. Or perhaps these kits belonged to magicians or healers of some sort." - Michel Oren (Gallery Director)

Recent work by Ron Pippin

Artifact by Gail Rieke. See more of Gail's exquisite collages here.

Boxed Books by Jody Alexander. See more of these amazing assemblages here .

"Jody Alexander is an artist, bookbinder, papermaker, librarian, and teacher who lives and works in Santa Cruz, California. She makes paper in the Eastern style, and uses her papers to bind books with exposed sewing on the spine in a number of historical and modern binding styles. She combines these books with found objects, wooden boxes and drawers, metal, bones, glass, etc. to create sculptural works. Her pieces celebrate collecting, storytelling, and odd characters. She also enjoys rescuing old books in distress and giving them new life as scrolls, wall books, and other objects."

Daniel Essig creates fantastic books. This photo comes from Flickr, here. See Daniel's website here.

"Daniel Essig creates wooden-covered art books and book-based sculptures. Using a fourth-century binding style known asEthiopian style Coptic, he creates mixed-media book structures that incorporate unusual woods, handmade paper, found objects, fossils, and mica."

Friday, January 15, 2010


I am honoured to have well known author, artist and workshop instructor Lynne Perrella as my guest blogger on Art Propelled this week.
Thanks so much for being here Lynne. Over to you ........

I thoroughly enjoyed Robyn's recent posting, showing her well-loved, expansive library. It reminded me of many studios I visited when I was working on my latest book, "Art-Making & Studio Spaces" (Quarry). I thought the readers of Art Propelled might enjoy having a look at four of these studios that feature books as a vital part of the inspiration quotient. All photographs are by my good friend and travel mate, Sarah Blodgett.

The phrase "chock-a-block" was invented for my studio. Books are everywhere. I am totally unapologetic about my love of books, and more arrive every week. I love being surrounded by my library of art and reference books, and my studio also functions as a reading room. Shelf space is always an "issue", but never a hindrance. One way or another, everything fits. Books are wonderful companions, and provide the flashpoint for so many ideas. There is nothing to match the feeling of sitting in a comfortable chair in my studio, with the music on, and a big art book in my lap.
True happiness!

My good friend, Judi Riesch, has perfect radar for finding beautiful things and placing them together in wonderful tableaus. This polished antique secretary was the ideal staging area for Judi's collection of small antique volumes, one-of-a-kind artist books, a growing collection of gilded daguerreotype albums, fond family memorabilia, and a grouping of her own framed assemblages. Books have a starring role throughout her home and studio, plus Judi uses fragments of old books and manuscripts to great advantage in her mixed media collages and shadowboxes.

My friend and neighbor, RO Blechman, has entertained the world for decades with his noted "squiggly line"; and his illustrations appear in ads, book covers, animations, and more. An impressive wall of books, bibelots, and visual archives (complete with rolling library ladder) is arranged with an art director's eye for "what to leave in, what to leave out". The wall of books has the fascination of a thoughtful room-sized visual composition, gathered and refined over time....a totally personal reflection of the lifelong interests and passions of a humorous, well-read, prolific artist.
Meeting and getting to know Melissa Zink was one of the great honors of my life. Whenever I visited her studio, we would prowl around the various work tables looking at assemblages-in-progress, and we would always inevitably end up in this wonderful sitting room just outside the studio. She often described her long-and-varied art journey as "the book experience", and her love of books and reading was the driving inspiration behind her lifetime body of work. She gleefully described making a visit "somewhere down South" and unexpectedly coming across a large grouping of "16th century books" in a thrift shop. "Well, naturally, I had to have all of them" she remarked, tossing a fond look over her shoulder at the row of old delicate volumes. No regrets.

Every studio I visited was ultra-personal and distinctive; the result of a gradual, revealing, organic process. Most of all, I encountered work spaces that radiated with all the "necessary things" that each artist wanted to have within reach. Oftentimes that meant "books....and lots of them!".

Lynne has generously offered a personalized copy of ART MAKING & STUDIO SPACES for a lucky draw. If you would like to take part in the draw say so in a comment on this post and the winner will be announced on Friday the 22nd January.
Visit Lynne's website, here . Glorious art and workshop information.
Order Art Making & Studio Spaces at Amazon, here.
And the winner is ...... Annie Kerr

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Nothing says Africa to me quite like the journals of the dishy Mr. Beard.
The beauty, the mystery, the cruelty, the blood and gore of Africa..... It's all there, between the pages of the most exciting journals of our time.

"When you look at his diaries, you think, The man is mad!" - Iman

"The diary habit began back when Beard and Radziwill were lovers and Jacqueline Onassis gave him a leather-bound journal he proceeded to fill with all manner of debris. Year by year, the diaries piled up, overstuffed volumes grotesquely swollen with the detritus of a life, each page densely layered with photographs and an astonishing assortment of other items: tiny rodent skulls, candy-bar wrappers, keys, buttons, flamingo feathers, a pocket from a pair of velvet jeans, peanut shells, dried leaves, plastic cocktail stirrers, a piece of a cereal box, mysterious newspaper headlines (woman saved from slime!), bones and rocks, smears and dribbles of blood (always Beard's favorite artistic medium), intricate line drawings and elaborately inscribed quotations, cigarette butts, rubber gloves, matchbooks, fish skeletons, plastic ketchup packets, a desiccated lizard, a dung-beetle foot—the variety is endless." - quote from an article in Vanity Fair, about Peter Beard, here. It's well worth reading! Beard is quite a spicy character whose story is bound to be made into a blockbuster film one day...... Maybe it's been done already?

"A giraffe is so much a lady that one refrains from thinking of her legs, but remembers her as floating over the plains in long garbs, draperies of morning mist and mirage." - Karen Blixen

All the images are from Peter Beard, a boxed, double volume set by Taschen. I used the kuba cloth as a back drop ( in case you thought it was part of the journal:-)

Visit Peter Beard's website here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I was going to post photos of my tidy studio this week but it's been a particularly daunting task and I'm not quite finished yet. Lack of space being the main problem. I seem to be rotating art supplies and books round and round the room because there's nowhere to put them once I've tidied up.

I bought Rice Freeman-Zachery's book Creative Time and Space a few months ago and I received Lynne Perrellas latest book, Art Making and Studio Space for christmas so I am feeling inspired to make space, both physical and mental, for new beginnings in 2010.

My dilemma is that I can't bring myself to clear out old books to make space for the sparkly new Christmas books. I love them all! They are like old friends and were my main source of inspiration before I succumbed to the lure of the internet.

Our book collections live in every room of the house .....

"It is instantly apparent, as soon as you enter, that this studio is all about the books, from the display cases to the bulging library shelves." - Pam Sussman in Art Making and Studio Spaces by Lynne Perrella

Another quote from Lynne Perrella's  book, Art Making and Studio Spaces ......
"Books have the most powerful and subtle connotations. They are never only objects, they have a voice with which they speak across time and across lives, a voice contingent only in part on their material nature and expressed forcefully in their text." - Philipp Blom

And then there are the notebooks ..... dozens of them!  I really find it difficult to throw them out.  They are filled with copious notes and even if they're only shopping lists, telephone numbers ..... or website links....what if I need this information one day? I also have journals (who hasn't?) and sketchbooks of ideas as well as my beloved quote books where I've been scribbling favourite quotations since the year dot.

Jackie mentioned Randi Parkhurst's extraordinary assemblage of books she discovered  here or  here, which led me to Judy Wilkenfeld's delightful little handmade books  here, as well as heartstopping images taken while making artists books with some of the treasures that Judy found at an Asian antique store. Scroll down to the 23rd December and watch a video clip about Judy's art.